"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hashim Djojohadikusumo some stolen statues - the Minto Stone and an aristocratic family feud

The fabulously wealthy Indonesian business man Hashim Djojohadikusumo collects historical Asian artifacts. Therefore when Hugo Kreijger, a former curator of Christie's auction house in Amsterdam arrived at his London mansion with some items he could obtain for him, his ears pricked up. Hugo said a representative from the Surakarta Kraton ( the palace of susuhunana of Surakarta in central Java) was offering six pieces from the Sultan's personal collection, complete with certificates from the ruler and from the government of Indonesia.

He claims Hugo told him the 6 pieces were not classified as objects of cultural heritage.

Lengthy negotiations took place from November 2006 to January 2007. Finally Hashim paid US$206,000 to Hugo: $100,000 for the purchase of the statues from the time of the country's Hindu-Buddha era, ( the statue of Ciwa, eight armed Mahisaasuramardini Durga, Durga Mahisaasuramardini two armed, Agastya, Mahakala, and Nandisa Wahanamurti) and the rest for some other items that have not been identified.

All this came out in proceedings against Hashim at Surakarta District Court in November for theft and falsifying the statues' provenance

Hashim says now that Hugo had told him he had been cheated by Heru Suryanto, who reportedly falsified the ownership certificates. Heru, was known to and had previously had dealings with Hugo - Heru is a distant relative of the Surakarta Kraton court, and is known as a dealer / handler of antiques.

"The moment I knew they were stolen, I called Hugo up and scolded him. He also admitted he had been conned," said Hashim in court.

Heru was sentenced to 18 months in prison on June 30. KRT Darmo Dipuro, also known as Mbah Hadi, the Radya Museum Library curator, from where the statues had been taken, also received a similar sentence.

Hashim was scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 7. Public prosecutor Tatang Agus has charged Hashim of violating law 5/1992 on cultural heritage. If found guilty, Hashim could face a maximum sentence of 12 months, or a maximum fine of Rp 10 million.

Hashim is accused of violating the law because he failed to register his ownership of the artifacts and his immediate handing over of the statues to the government showed criminal intent.

The Minto Stone and Hashim Djojohadikusumo and his Indonesian cultural and archaeological heritage organisation (YKHD)

The Minto Stone is a 3.8 tonne carved stone, which holds significant symbolic meaning for Indonesians,(they call it the Sanggurah Stone) is some two metres tall and bears an ancient inscription of Javanese king Sri Maharaja Rakai Pangkaja Dyah Wawa Sri Wijayalokanamottungga.

It currently rests as a large and splendid piece of imperial plunder in the grounds of the Minto Estates in Roxburghshire, SCotland.

Also known as the Sanggurah Stone, the 3.8 tonne icon was originally taken by the 19th century British colonial explorer Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles stole this in 1812 when he had captured Java from the Dutch and was appointed Lieutenant Governor in 1811 by Lord Minto, Governor of India. Some eight years later, Raffles founded the British colony of Singapore. He was knighted in London in 1817 for his scholarly and comprehensive book History of Java.

As a token of appreciation, Sir Stamford Raffles gave it to the first Earl of Minto and he then took it home and there to sit in a leafy glade.

Coincident with the embarassing episode of the stolen statuary Hashim Djojohadikusumo has been acting on behalf of the Indonesian Government to get it back.

Hari Untoro Drajat, director general of history and archaeology at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said: "The Minto Stone is an important historical artefact and a crucial source of information.

"It contains the history of the Mataram kingdom in Central Java and its eventual shift of power to East Java and was carved in AD982..( Saka 876) it is in the Kava language and has two Sanskrit stanzas at the beginning.

Inter government negotiation since 2004 had been stalled because the relic is currently in the custodianship of Minto trustees. So Hashim and (Yayasan Keluarga Hashim Djojohadikusumo) YKHD were asked to intercede.... Hashim has met Timothy Melgund (Gilbert Timothy George Lariston Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound)– the current and 7th Earl of Minto and sums not unadjacent to £3 Mn. have been mentioned.

M'Lord Minto, current guardian of the imperial loot and who who heads the fancy stationery firm Paperchase, a wholly owned subsidiary of the US Borders bookshop group, admits to talks , but claims the stone had been on the estate for nearly 200 years and was as important to the family now as it was when it first arrived. He may not be keen to receive publicly such a lump of dosh because there is a bitter family feud over the non-payment of a six-figure legacy to the Dowager Countess and former wife of the late 6th Earl of Minto (and former nurse and model Caroline Larlham. The couple were married in 1991 when the Old Etonian Earl was 63 and Caroline was 39.

The row threatens to explode as the Dowager Countess, Lady Caroline Minto, is now resident in Italy currently writing "tell-all" memoirs in a bid to raise cash to fund a court case against the late earl's executors . Timothy has accused his stepmother of deserting his father when he became ill some years before his death in September, 2005, an accusation she denies.

The Government in Holyrood said that it was a private matter and will not interfere - although they are active in attempting to get the Lewis Chessmen returned from the British Museum in London.

However after private discussions (and no mention of money) the stone was returned in February 2008 and has been placed in the National Museum in Jakarta. (Psst don't tell the Dowager Countess)

To the credit of the Scots the National Museum of Scotland announced earlier this year it would return an aboriginal skull to Tasmania and, in 2007, nine Maori heads were returned to New Zealand by the Marischal Museum at the University of Aberdeen.

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